First Steele, now Alvarado: Exeter (7-1, 4-0) did a respectable defensive job against Kingsburg standout quarterback Garrett Steele in a 26-14 Central Sequoia League conquest of the Vikings on Oct. 15.
Now the Monarchs, top-ranked in the Central Section's Division IV, look to clinch at least a league-title tie tonight with a win over visiting Coalinga (7-2, 4-1) and junior Brian Alvarado (1,732 rushing yards, 20 TDs).
Exeter's defense has allowed an average of only 11.0 points while carrying a team ravaged by injuries to running backs.
Sixth-year coach Ben White says Marcus Aguilar is the best middle linebacker he's had. And the supporting cast features lock-down cornerbacks Alex Valencia and Brayden Winding and third-year strong safety Alan Sanchez.
Offensively, though, the Monarchs have dipped as deep as their sixth-string tailback, but it has hardly mattered because of a line that cleared the way for them all behind right tackle Miguel Perez and center Matt Dreo.
Cal-Hi bowl rankings: Dos Palos (7-1, 2-0), at No. 3 in D-III, continues to carry the section's highest Cal-Hi Sports ranking in the South region for state bowl purposes. The four bowl divisions vary slightly from the section's six playoff divisions.
Dos Palos will gun for school win No. 600 in its 87-year history tonight at Avenal (0-8, 0-3).
Cal-Hi's South bowl rankings also have No. 5 Centennial and No. 11 Clovis West in D-I, No. 14 Porterville in D-II and No. 9 Exeter and No. 10 Washington in D-III.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Ernest Carter, Central: For all the Grizzlies' talk this season about the running back that never was (Brendon Bigelow, lost to injury), the receiver that is (B.J. Kelley, 38 catches and bearing down on a 1,000-yard season) and the quarterback that will be for yet another season (junior Michael Baker), Carter is the team MVP. The senior has scored 12 touchdowns and must be respected by Clovis West tonight as a running back, receiver and punt/kick returner.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
No. 1 Centennial (8-0, 3-0) at No. 16 Liberty-Bakersfield (5-3, 2-1): Centennial quarterback Cody Kessler calls center Alex Trujillo the team MVP, so it's a good thing for Kessler that he expects Trujillo will play tonight after twisting an ankle in last week's 28-14 win over No. 3 Bakersfield. Kessler passed for only 8 yards in the second half with Trujillo on the bench.
No. 3 Bakersfield (6-2, 2-1) at No. 11 Stockdale (4-4, 1-2): Why is Stockdale ranked No. 11? Because the Mustangs' losses have come to No. 1 Centennial (48-17), No. 8 Frontier (35-14), No. 10 Clovis (6-0) and No. 13 Garces (21-17), and the Mustangs have beaten No. 9 Buchanan (44-24) and No. 16 Liberty-Bakersfield (31-3). Meaning: Bakersfield had better buckle back up emotionally after its loss to Centennial in one of Kern County's most advertised duels in 30 years.
No. 4 Porterville (8-0, 6-0) at Delano (5-3, 4-2): Gotta believe the East Yosemite League-leading Panthers will walk into a beehive at Delano, which lost by only a touchdown (17-10) to No. 5 Tulare (7-1, 5-1).
Bullard (3-5, 2-1) at No. 14 Memorial (6-2, 2-1): With Sunnyside (5-3, 3-0) leading the County/Metro Athletic Conference, the Knights and Panthers won't be playing for first place, but don't underestimate the intensity of what promises to be a boiling rivalry in that newly shaped league. Actually, the emotion is largely one-sided because Bullard absolutely cannot accept losing any student-athletes from its attendance area to private school Memorial, and it's not uncommon. Knights school representatives have made no secret of this in their move to require school uniforms and upgrade public perception.
Wasco (7-1, 3-0) at No. 19 Tehachapi (7-1, 3-0): Here's a South Sequoia League duel between the D-IV Tigers and D-II Warriors with all sorts of league and postseason seeding ramifications. Tehachapi's schedule has been soft since defeating Exeter 38-25 and losing to Garces 35-6 to open the season.
Yosemite (4-4, 3-0) at Washington (6-2, 3-0): The team nobody's talking about, Yosemite -- a year after not even competing in the postseason -- goes to Easton to decide the North Sequoia League trophy. The Badgers march down the hill with a formidable pass-rush punch in Brad Rolff and Cody Essary.
Follow us: Keep up with the action tonight at blitz.fresnobeehive.com and on Twitter: @scoopy sports. Coverage will be provided by Andy Boogaard (Clovis West at Central, follow on Twitter: @beepreps) and Nick Giannandrea (Porterville at Delano). Coaches: Got a score to report? Call (559) 441-6379 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.